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Wade-Giles

 

[Description from Kongming.net and Omniglot]

The Wades-Giles romanization was devised by Thomas Francis Wade (1818-1895), a British ambassador in China and Chinese scholar who was the first professor of Chinese at Cambridge University. Wade published the first ever Chinese textbook in English in 1867. The system was refined in 1912 by Herbert Allen Giles (1845-1935), a British diplomat in China.

Until 1998, Wade-Giles was the main romanization system used to represent the sounds of Mandarin in Western publications. It is still used in Taiwan for transliterating place names, street names and people's names. However, as it is not taught in schools, few people know how to use it properly. For example, in Wade-Giles Taipei should be written T'ai-Pei or T'ai²-Pei³ (Táibĕi in pīnyīn). Without the apostophe, the t is pronounced like "d".

In 1998 Taipei City government adopted a modified version of pīnyīn to write the names of streets, districts, etc, in Taipei City. In this new system, Taipei is written TaiBei. The Wades-Giles system is still used elsewhere in Taiwan.

The Wade-Giles system was designed to transliterate Chinese terms for Chinese specialists. This origin has led to a general sense that the system is non-intuitive for non-specialists and not useful for teaching Chinese pronunciation.

A common complaint about the Wade-Giles system is the representation of the unaspirated-aspirated stop consonant pairs using apostrophes: p, p', t, t', k, k'. Westerners unfamiliar with the system often ignore the apostrophes, even so far as leaving them out when copying texts, unaware that they represented vital information. The Pinyin system addresses this problem by employing the Latin letters customarily used for voiced stops, unneeded in Mandarin, to represent the unaspirated stops: b, p, d, t, g, k.

Partly because of the popular omission of the apostrophe, the four pīnyīn sounds of j, q, zh, and ch all become ch in many literature and personal names. However, were the diacritics to be kept, the system reveals a symmetry that leaves no overlap:

    • The non-retroflex ch (Pinyin j) and ch' (Pinyin q) are always before either i or ü.
    • The retroflex ch (Pinyin zh) and ch' (Pinyin ch) are always before a, e, ih, o, or u.

     

Pronunciation Smackdown!
Pinyin vs Wade-Giles

Pinyin
Wade-Giles
Sounds like...

-b

-p

like the b in obstinate

-c

-ts

like ts in its

-ch

-ch’

like ch in chair but with the tongue on the palate

-d

-t

same as in English but not aspirated

-g

-k

same as in English but not aspirated

-h

-h

between the h in how and the ch in chutzpah

-j

-ch

same as English but with tip of tongue on lower teeth

-k

-k’

same as English but strongly aspirated

-p

-p’

same as English, aspirated

-q

-ch’

like ch in chair but with tip of tongue on lower teeth

-r

-j

like r in rapid but with the tongue on the palate

-sh

-sh

same as English but with tongue on the palate

-t

-t’

same as English but softer, aspirated

-x

-hs

like sh in she but with tip of tongue on lower teeth

-y

-y

same as English but softe

-z

-ts’

like the ds in pods

-zh

-ch

like the j in jar but with tongue on the palate
Same: f, l, m, n, ng, s, w

 

For example:

Pīnyīn

Wade-Giles

Běijīng

Peking

Sìchuān

Szechwan

dòufu

tofu

gōngfu

kung fu

Táibĕi

Taipei

Tàijíquán

T’ai chi ch’uan

Máo Zédōng

Mao Tse-tung

Jiăng Jièshí

Chiang Kai-shek
(Chiang Chieh-shih)

 

Hànyŭ Pīnyīn

Tongyong Pinyin

BoPoMoFo

Yale

 

The Collection Chinese Language Transliteration Film Resources Portfolio

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© 2005 Sarah Jo Kozerow.  All rights reserved.  No copyright is claimed on non-original or licensed material.